Ian McNulty


Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat. 

Ian is also a staff writer for the daily newspaper the New Orleans Advocate, covering the culture, personality and trends behind the city’s famous dining scene.

He is the author of two books - “Louisiana Rambles: Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland,” a travel narrative about south Louisiana culture, and “A Season of Night: New Orleans Life After Katrina,” an account of the first months in the city after Hurricane Katrina.

He has been a contributor to WWNO since 2009.

Ian McNulty

With fall in the air, the New Orleans tourism season is revving up after its long summer lull. It’s the happy time for the hospitality sector here.

It's also a good time to acknowledge that while the tourists bring their wallets, they also carry double-edged swords. Simply put: the more New Orleans restaurants rely on them, the less these restaurants need New Orleans people.

Fried chicken from McHardy's Chicken & Fixin' in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

Sometimes a good festival can put a focus on just why we get so fired up about certain foods.

This weekend, fried chicken gets its turn, as the Fried Chicken Festival returns to Woldenberg Park along the French Quarter riverfront. 

This event is a gathering of the tribes of fried chicken lovers, and they are many.

Jambalaya, cooked outdoors in heavy iron pots, is a common sight around Louisiana during football season.
Ian McNulty

Sometimes, Louisiana culture seems to run countercyclical to mainstream America. So it goes that, with Labor Day well behind us and with others putting away outdoor summertime pleasures like so many pool toys, people here are wheeling out their grills, filling up the propane tanks and wiping down their heirloom cast iron.

The reason isn’t the calendar, and it really isn’t even the temperature. It’s football.

Taco trucks furnish quick, inexpensive, handmade food on the streets of New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

It happens to all of us. Maybe your lunch break is limited to 10 minutes, or something less than ten dollars. Maybe a sit down restaurant is out of the question, and you still won’t stoop to big chain fast food.

Ian McNulty

In New Orleans, the great meals of the past aren’t always confined to the past. Sometimes they’re the next thing you eat.

Soft shell crab tacos at Sun Ray Grill, a neighborhood eatery in Gretna.
Ian McNulty

I would like to address a false rumor circulating in the news. Multiple sources are claiming that summer is almost over. For evidence, they present back-to-school stories and ads full of men’s sweaters and ladies’ boots. They even track the countdown to Labor Day weekend, as if that settles it.

Coolinary is a popular prix fixe promotion in August in New Orleans. The seafood stuffed eggplant at Brigtsen's Restaurant is dish on its Coolinary menu.
Ian McNulty

When it comes to dining around New Orleans, it’s possible that the worst of times can also be the best of times.

No, this is not a tale of two cities. It’s the story of one hot city, our own, going through its all-too-predictable slow summer season. 

Ian McNulty

In the middle of summer, could anything be better than a good old scoop of ice cream?

But what if it isn’t a scoop? What if it’s a cluster of wafer thin ice cream rolls made before your eyes and bundled under various sauces, candies and breakfast cereals.

Fried catfish at Barrow's Catfish is based on the family recipe from Barrow's Shady Inn.
Ian McNulty

In the world before Hurricane Katrina, Barrow’s Shady Inn was on the map for great New Orleans food, though it still took a little doing to get to its door, tucked away down Hollygrove side streets.

But Barrow’s Shady Inn was the kind of place that people remembered. It was acclaimed for its fried catfish, in the way that other Creole soul restaurants are known for their chicken or their gumbo. Catfish, in fact, was all it served, washed down with lemonade, hazy yellow and sweet tart.

A poke bowl of raw tuna, rice and garlic honey sauce at Poke-chan in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

Earlier this year, when the hot weather was just revving up, I ate a meal that qualified simultaneously as the healthiest and trendiest I’d had in a long time.

It was a poke bowl, chopped raw fish over sushi rice and under a quasar of colorful toppings. It was prepared before my eyes, assembly line style, faster than a fast food burger. It set me back a lot more. But it was quick, tasty, protein-packed and satisfying. Still, something about it made me just a little uneasy.